Malls have long occupied an important social space in Hong Kong, a city famed for its bustling streets, cramped apartment living and love of retail therapy. They’re what sociologist Ray Oldenburg dubbed ‘third places,’ communal spaces to hang out and feel connected that aren’t your home or place of work.
So, it’s not surprising that Hong Kong’s newest one – K11 Musea – has been generating buzz since before its soft opening in August 2019. The glitzy, 1.2-million-square-foot space intentionally blurs the lines between shopping mall, art gallery and cultural hot spot, with creative exhibits scattered throughout, conceptual cafes and even a nature park eight-storeys in the air.
It’s part of the new multi-use Victoria Dockside development (including the Rosewood Hong Kong hotel) which, alongside the renovated Hong Kong Museum of Art, anchors the revamped Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront.
There’s such an array of experiences available within K11 Musea alone that it can feel daunting to navigate, especially for a first-time visitor. Read on for highlights that will help you get the most out of a visit.
1. Eye-Catching Architecture and Design
This is not your average megamall. Top architecture firms including Rotterdam-based OMA, Hong Kong-based LAAB, AB Concept, Kohn Pedersen Fox and James Corner Field Operations (responsible for New York’s High Line elevated park) collaborated to deliver on developer Adrian Cheng’s vision for a communal space merging culture and commerce.
Sustainability was also a priority. Over 50,000 square feet of green walls carpet K11 Musea’s interiors and facade while exotic plants and swathes of moss grow inside vivariums. The main atrium, clad in sheets of brassy waves, showcases the visual centrepiece – a 10-metre-wide Gold Ball encased in 285 carved glass panels. There’s also a sunken outdoor amphitheatre, with curved glass panels, a giant LED screen and a programmed water wall that will be used for film festivals and concerts.
2. Contemporary Art
Cheng’s passion for art led to the sourcing of some 40 contemporary art pieces that punctuate the grounds and common areas of K11 Musea. Some of our favourites include Hong Kong artist Samson Young’s mini-golf-inspired piece, Carol Bove’s colourful Melty Legs installation and Paola Pivi’s whimsical neon polar bears. That giant Gold Ball on the second floor we mentioned earlier? It’s set to host a programme of new media and video art installations throughout the year.
3. Global Brand Appeal
K11 Musea has a pleasing mix of high-end, high street brands and many firsts for the city. At the upper end, retailers include the first Asian showroom of Moda Operandi, where customers can pre-order looks directly from designers after runway shows; Yohji Yamamoto’s debut flagship in greater China; and an outpost of British perfumers Penhaligon’s.
There’s also a colossal outpost of quirky South Korean eyewear specialist Gentle Monster, while streetwear heavyweights like Edison Chen’s Juice brand and GCDC (aka God Can’t Destroy Streetwear) will keep sneakerheads in limited-edition Air Jordans and ironic slogan tees for seasons to come.
4. MoMA Design Store
New York’s Museum of Modern Art redefined the museum gift shop by turning its own into a space for arty homewares and quirky cultural-referencing curio – from Andy Warhol skateboard decks to Picasso-print socks, trendy backpacks, design books and tasteful presents and toys. Now you can get that experience at the biggest MoMA Design Store in Asia.
5. L’Ecole School of Jewellery Arts
K11 was the location of choice for Van Cleef & Arpels’ first permanent School of Jewellery Arts outside of Paris. Located on Level 5, it hosts an ongoing series of classes, talks and exhibitions related to gemstones and high jewellery. You can also consult its library of over 600 books on the art of engagement rings and jewellery craftsmanship.
6. 181 at Fortnum & Mason
News that the British department store’s first overseas shop and restaurant was opening on our shores was met with flutters of excitement. Hongkongers who enjoy an indulgent afternoon tea can now take theirs at 181 at Fortnum & Mason’s upstairs restaurant with sweeping harbourside views, then load up on the brand’s signature tea blends, buttery biscuits, jams, marmalades and other classic British staples in the 7,000-square-foot shop on the ground floor.
7. A Coffee Kube
Kube houses the latest outpost of coffee purveyors % Arabica, in giant golden cube dreamed up by Dutch architects OMA. The Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront kiosk is the perfect place to stretch your legs and drink in the blockbuster views of Victoria Harbour and one of % Arabica’s signature Spanish lattes.
You can also get a caffeine fix at Elephant Grounds in the seventh-floor Bohemian Garden rooftop – for skyline views with your flat white – or check out The Coffee Academics’ single-origin nitro coffee bar on the third floor. Alternatively, sip espresso-based brews and rare beans from around the world in a soon-to-open outpost of minimalist Japanese coffee specialist Omotesando Koffee & Koffee Mameya.
8. Cult-Favourite Foods
Among the 70-something local and global concepts are some names that generate major foodie devotion. Japanese sweets cafe A Happy Pancake for its fluffy souffle pancakes, for instance, as well as American burger chain Five Guys (equally beloved for the fries cooked in refined peanut oil) and Hong Kong’s first branch of Tokyo’s Takano Ramen. For a sweet treat, try Italian gelateria Per Piacere or a fruit-infused tea made by a robot that also performs a dance every hour at Robotea.
You can’t have a trendy mall without a temple to the millennial favourite, the avocado, and K11 Musea comes through with an outpost of London’s Avobar. Other spots for a relaxing sit-down meal include Bong Pro-Dry Aging steakhouse and high-end, wellness-centric Asaya Kitchen, in the adjoining Rosewood Hong Kong, where chef Renaud Marin’s menu of Mediterranean and Japanese-inspired dishes celebrate seasonal ingredients in a light, clean style. In the basement, you’ll find more casual dining at the Food Playground, which houses 10 restaurants serving Chinese, Korean, Macanese, Italian and fusion cuisines.
9. Nature Discovery Park: A Rooftop Farm and Museum
It takes some effort – namely, finding the dedicated lift and its too-cleverly placed buttons – to reach the eighth-floor Nature Discovery Park, a rooftop farm and biodiversity museum. The payoff is in surveying the 180-plus plant and animal species, including an aquarium teeming with native sea life. There are DIY tours available if you download an app and daily guided tours. The park contributes to K11 Musea’s green credentials: 100 per cent of the mall’s irrigation water comes from rainwater harvesting, while seawater-cooled, oil-free heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems reduce its energy footprint.
Danish firm Monstrum has built its reputation on creative playground design and contributed two spaces to K11. The ground-floor, indoor Donut Playhouse features a three-storey slide, a 10-meter-tall giant wooden boy and an interactive digital zone.
Outdoors on the seventh floor, Peacock Playground is named for its nine-metre-tall statue, complete with a tubular slide. But before the kids can let loose, be warned that you need to book a 15-minute session downstairs at the concierge – and spend a minimum of HK$300 in the mall’s kid-centric shops.
K11 Art House caters to movie-going families with the city’s first IMAX laser projection, and later in 2020 the Legoland Discovery Centre will open with two indoor rides and 10 build and play zones. Chances are they won’t be the last headline-making developments to pop up at K11.
11. K11 Artus
With so much to explore across K11 Musea’s nine storeys, you may be tempted to stay a while. And if so, the attached K11 Artus is happy to oblige with equally attractive place to spend the night – whether you’re staying short- or long-term; or a studio or a sprawling penthouse. The accommodations really are homey, in a very fancy kind of way: open living spaces, terrace doors, kitchens. Balconies are rare extravagances in Hong Kong hotels, but here they come in every room, providing a little more opportunity to soak up Artus’ peerless views.
K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong